African’s Warm Heart, Malawi, is beating faster now and the legendary welcome is there for all who wish to experience the unrivalled combination of Lake, Landscape, Wildlife & Culture in one of Africa’s most beautiful and compact countries. Recently crowned as one of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022 (a remarkable second appearance on that prestigious list in recent years) Malawi’s tourism is set to return to the upward trajectory it was on pre-pandemic.
Described as the ‘Warm Heart Of Africa’, this relatively little known gem of this diverse continent has so much to offer; wildlife, culture, adventure, scenery, and of course the third largest lake in Africa. A year-round destination, some even go as far to describe Malawi as the most attractive and complete destination in Africa!
This may seem to be an extravagant claim for such a relatively small country but the truth lies in the unique combination of attractions that Malawi has to offer. Where else will you find such rich cultural interaction and such a genuinely warm welcome in a country at peace with itself? Where else can you experience such a diverse scenic kaleidoscope in such a small area? Here you have central Africa’s highest mountain, vast high plateaux with seemingly limitless views, forests and unspoilt game parks and, the jewel in the crown, Africa’s third largest and most beautiful lake – truly an inland sea. With thrilling safaris now rivalling its neighbours thanks to the sustainable wildlife revolution brought about by Africa Parks, it’s easy to see why Malawi is now proving so popular.
Malawi’s tourist industry is vital to the overall economy of the country and supports huge numbers of local Malawians through employment and community projects, as well as helping conserve the country’s natural riches. As it attempts to recover from the damage caused by COVID-19, and continue in its important role, the industry is doing all it can to ensure the well-being of its visitors. A set of national COVID-19 Health & Safety protocols for tourism has been established, that have resulted in the award of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Stamp. WTTC’s Stamp was established to show travellers which destinations have adopted globally standardised health and hygiene protocols in order that they can experience ‘Safe Travels’.
The Lake Malawi National Park is the world’s first freshwater national park and a World Heritage Site, found at Cape Maclear at the southern end of Lake Malawi. The park includes a land area around the cape and bay as well as the Lake and islands up to 100 metres (330ft) off shore. Here is a veritable aquarium of tropical fish in crystal clear waters providing a colourful kaleidoscopic display. The countless thousands of freshwater fish, the mbuna, are more abundant and varied here than anywhere else in the world. Boats are available for hire and the fish will feed directly from the hand. Away from the Lake, the park has baboons, antelope and hyrax, and, of course, there is a great variety of birdlife including fish eagles, cormorants and hamerkops. Check Gallery
Off the eastern shore of the Lake is Likoma Island, a small piece of Malawian territory in Mozambican waters. The University Mission to Central Africa (David Livingstone’s mission) set up their headquarters on Likoma in the 1880s in part to try to fight the slave trade that used routes across Lake Malawi. Because of this history, Likoma was retained by Malawi when the Lake was divided politically after World War II and the waters around it became Mozambican. Check Gallery
Lilongwe became Malawi’s capital in 1975, a role previously filled by Zomba. It owes its status to Dr Hastings Banda, the country’s first President, who was born just north of the town. The Old Town is distinct and separate from the new Capital City. While the former has all the appearance of a traditional African settlement, the City has much in common with other twentieth century urban developments around the world. Its gleaming modern buildings in their spacious garden-like settings, contrasts with the hustle and bustle of Old Town. Both of these different parts of the town are worth touring. The modern shops of the City are complemented by the busy streets and walled market of Old Town, which even still has its golf club from colonial times. Lilongwe’s range of services and facilities is unsurpassed except, possibly, in Blantyre. Of the modern shopping precincts, Old Town Mall is the best, particularly for those looking for quality souvenirs. As well as African Habitat, with its locally crafted ornaments and furnishings, there is one of Central Africana’s galleries: full of fascinating books and modern and historical maps and prints. Lilongwe has a growing music scene and is the best place in the country to sample Malawi nightlife. Check Gallery
Although only 220 sq miles (580 sq km), Liwonde is perhaps the most popular of all of Malawi’s game parks, with its beautiful riverine setting and teeming wildlife offering thrilling safaris. It is about 100 miles (160 km) north of Blantyre and only rather more than half that distance from the hotels on the Mangochi Lakeshore. Wildlife viewing is enhanced because the River Shire flows along its western border, allowing boat safaris as well as the usual ones on foot. Check Gallery
Majete Wildlife Reserve is a unique conservation and tourist destination for all visitors. The amazing success story of recovery and restoration and the continued protection of endangered species have led Majete to become one of the most popular reserves in Malawi for wildlife and safaris. Majete lies in the Lower Shire Valley in the South West of Malawi, approximately 70km – (one and a half hour’s drive) from Blantyre’s Chileka international airport and three hours from Lake Malawi. Check Gallery
Blue Zebra Island Lodge is nestled on Nankoma island: a wild paradise and a haven for flora and fauna, supporting diverse ecosystems. The island drastically transforms throughout the year. After the first rains (usually late November), Nankoma comes to life as trees bloom with a lush, green cover that quickly envelops the land, met by rising lake levels. Rains subside around April and over time leaves and fruits fall to the ground, their nutrients seeping into the soil. Surrounding waters become crystal clear and rocky outcrops teeming with colourful fish are uncovered, inviting you to discover Lake Malawi’s aquatic habitats. While the island is spectacular in bloom, dry season has its perks: particularly being able to see further into the vegetation for birdwatching and exploring nature trails. Check Gallery
The Viphya Plateau is a true, exciting highland wilderness cut by a number of rivers running into Lake Malawi. Although there are large areas of commercial forestry, there are also rolling grassland hills, Rift Valley escarpments descending to Lake Malawi and even sections of indigenous rainforest. Viphya is a great, dissected plateau aligned parallel to the Great Rift Valley (containing Lake Malawi). Dotted with small isolated hills called inselbergs, it forms the spine of North Malawi, with its highest peaks rising over 1800 metres (6000 feet). The saddle in which the city of Mzuzu lies splits the Viphya and to the north it meets Lake Malawi very abruptly, leaving no space for lowlands at the lakeshore. Check Gallery